Your Influence Counts ... Use It! The SPOTLIGHT by Liberty Lobby

Reprinted from, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive

Spy Gadgets Make Americans Targets

  • 'Big Brother' has discovered technology that places John Q. Public's civil liberties at risk.
By Mike Blair

On the pretext of countering illegal immigration, drugs and terrorism, the Clinton administration has ordered a massive number of super-sophisticated spying devices that can be used to monitor virtually every move of the American people.

While it is claimed that the electronic visual and audio detection devices are intended for curbing crime and terrorism, civil libertarians are concerned that this latest technology in the hands of over-zealous government agents may be used for any number of sinister purposes.

Two areas of concern are electronic devices that can detect firearms -- with out any distinction for those being carried legally - and for detecting private conversations among people.

As an example, at the Air Force's Rome Laboratory in upstate New York a device known as the "In-Vehicle Voice Verification System" has been developed in a joint effort by the laboratory's Intelligence Analysis Branch, The U.S. Department of Justice and the New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation.

The device is described as a "Biometric-based Voice verification system."

"Biometrics," an Air force news release says, 'is the automated Measuring of one or more specific attributes or features of a person, such as voice, fingerprinting, infrared facial images or hand geometry with the intent of being able to distinguish that individual from all others."

According to the release, voice data from a moving vehicle was collected and then processed with Rome Laboratory's unique algorithms that were able to successfully perform voice verification.

"Current plans call for the production of between 25 and 50 of the hand-held devices," the Air Force announced.

Meanwhile American Science and Engineering Inc. Has won an $8.5 million contract from the federal government to provide four of its Cargo Search (TM) Systems, which have the ability of identifying drugs, explosives and even people deep within cargo trucks or containers.

The Massachusetts company boasts of being a leader in developing and patenting so-called "Z(R) Backscatter" technology.

"Backscatter" technology included the use of X-rays and ultrasound imaging that would allow police to spot people carrying concealed weapons, which could, Second Amendment defenders fear, greatly facilitate the enforcement of any ban that may be enacted concerning the person ownership and carrying of firearms.

Gun rights groups are concerned about police searches, privacy and citizen rights, particularly in states such as Texas, Florida and Virginia where it is legal to carry concealed weapons.

If the devices can detect concealed weapons they can also detect even more personal things, such as heart pacemakers, artificial limbs, surgically replaced heart valves, joints and other body parts, jewelry, etc.